Odisha gears up to bring back Dakota once flown by Biju Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government decided to initiate step to bring back abandoned Dakota aircraft, which was once flown by late Chief Minister Biju Patnaik.

In this regard, a letter will be written to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry to hand over the aircraft to Odisha. Thereafter, steps will be taken to bring back the plane following expenditure estimate, informed Transport Special Secretary Manoj Mishra here today.

The proposal to bring Biju Babu’s iconic aircraft Dakota to Odisha received in-principle approval at an internal meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy with Bhubaneswar Airport authorities and stakeholders at Lok Seva Bhawan.

Further decision will be taken to park the aircraft at suitable location after it reaches Bhubaneswar, the official said.

“It was a pre-meeting to discuss ahead of the high-level meeting scheduled between Odisha Government and CEOs of Airlines at Hotel Mayfair on January 22 in Bhubaneswar.  Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had requested the Civil Aviation Ministry for a meeting at Bhubaneswar to discuss various issues. Ahead of the meeting, an internal meeting was held to know the updates about development of airports in Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda, Jeypore and Rourkela. We also discussed the existing connectivity and proposed connectivity,” Mishra said.

The state government will place its demand for new air connectivity at the meeting on January 22.

Earlier, the state government was planning to bring the aircraft, which is stationed at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata since 1947, to Odisha and park it in front of Anand Bhavan, the ancestral house of Biju Patnaik at Tulsipur in Cuttack, for public view.

Biju Patnaik, who was known for his daredevilry act as a pilot, had formed the Kalinga Airline in 1947. The airline had 15 Dakota planes parked at its headquarters in Kolkata. The aircrafts were chiefly used by the army for transport of jawans deployed in Kashmir. Kalinga Airline’s DC-3s were also used to drop supplies at north-eastern area of the country and providing services to the army personnel in north-east area of the country.

Patnaik came to limelight after he rescued former Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Hatta and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir from their enemies on July 22, 1947. He was credited with making the landing at Srinagar on Oct 27 in the year.

Later, the Indonesia government acknowledged his contribution by honouring Biju Babu with ‘Bhumi Putra’ title for his chivalry.

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